Not screwing around this summer, man.
The Game: The Aegis Project
The Publisher: John Wick Presents
Degree of Familiarity: Not much. I read it.
Books Required: Just the one.
The Aegis Project has an interesting story behind its creation. Evidently +John Wick had someone request a game about mecha in a Facebook comment one day, and he said "raise me $100" and I'll do it. This game was crowdfunded before that was really a thing, and in fact, some of the games that have ads in the back include The Play's The Thing, World of Dew, and my own curse the darkness. I got my copy, skimmed it, and then put it on my shelf for a while, like I do a lot of games.
I read through it last night, and actually, it's pretty interesting. The system is similar to World of Dew (and therefore, I assume, Blood & Honor, which I don't own) - you roll a bunch of dice (d10s), you gain privilege and therefore narrative control if you succeed, and every even or "bang" after privilege gives you the right to make declarations. I can say from experience that this sort of play works really well for players that get into it, and applying it to a grittier sci-fi setting would be interesting.
Said setting is also pretty well-realized. The game has three different eras, all corresponding to a different war in humanity's history - war against aliens, where we developed mechs, a civil war where the Colonists tried to break away from UNEC, and a war for humanity's future after AIs basically take over. The first one is the one that grabbed me the most, so I think that's the one I'll make a character for.
So, the chapter that talks about character creation only covers human characters. Mecha, however (Aegis Armor) need a pilot, an engineer, and an AI. It looks like AIs are meant to be playable, but they're covered in their own chapter, and nowhere in the character creation chapter does it say "character creation for AIs is cover in Chapter Whatever." So there's some organizational stuff that could be cleaner. I'm supposed to be able to pick from five commissions: Grunt, Special Forces, Apollo, Hades Op, and Civilian. Special Forces is never mentioned beyond that one line, and none of the character choices following the commissions (Apollo Soldier, Apollo Pilot, Grunt Squad, Veteran, Hades Op, Aegis Engineer, and Civilian) mention Special Forces. Likewise, the character creation section says that you need to make a character for the right era, but the chargen differences between era are covered in their respective chapters.
Well, anyway. On the one hand, it's a game about mecha and it would seem silly not to play a mech pilot. On the other, that's another character sheet I'd have to fill out, and it's late already. I think I shall make a Hades Operative character, as they looked fun. Hades are basically black ops/secret police. They can command Apollo soldiers using neural overrides and get a secret agenda for every mission. Sounds fun.
Oh, wait, actually, first thing I do is decide on my homeworld and declare three true things about it. I'll say my guy is from Primus, the first moon of a planet called Null. The planet Null is lifeless and resistant to terraforming (hence the name) but Primus took to terraforming perhaps too well. So three true things about Primus:
1) Vines and moss cover every outdoor surface in a matter of hours and have to be scraped away daily.
2) During the "spring," everyone has to wear special masks to keep spores out of their lungs.
3) It's become common to try and conceal your identity during spring, and to indulge unspoken desires.
I get a +1 to any trait and a +2 to any Specialty from my homeworld. I'll save those for now.
Because I'm Hades, I have one +3 Specialty and three Specialty points, plus my +2 from Primus. I don't get Camaraderie at all. This is a pool of points that the soldiers can draw from to help with rolls; I'm a spy and a blackguard, so I'm just not involved. I do get access to special equipment, and I can command Apollo soldiers.
So here's a thing: Traits go to a maximum of 4, if I'm reading this right, but two of my five traits are already at 4. So I have to raise Strength, Ops, or Weapons. Hmm. Well, I'll raise Ops. Primus is a difficult world to live on, and you need to know how to use various kinds of lifesaving devices when spores get into eyes or other sensitive areas.
Now Specialties. There's a list, but I'm encouraged to make up my own. Well, I like Scout and Stealth. I'll also take Disguise. Those are all at Casual. Huh. "Casual" is a difficulty setting for the game in general, but it doesn't have any meaning with regards to Specialties. I assume it means +1, since that's listed as "a basic understanding."
I get a +3 Specialty and then I can add 2 to a given Specialty from my homeworld. That +3 one seems to be on top of my 3 points. Well, I'll add the +2 to Disguise, I'll put the +3 into Scout, and that means I actually get 2 points into Stealth. So that's fine.
And then rank, which I assume corresponds to "Command" on the characters sheet. I'm a Commander, since I'm Hades.
And now equipment. Not normally my favorite thing to do, but this isn't "spend a bunch of copper pieces," it's just "pick your stuff." So that's nice. And heck, I have my Hades stuff listed in a special section. Groovy! I have a bomb in my head that goes off if my heart stops. I also have some grenades.
But mostly, that's me done. I need a name, of course.
Giles Phillips was born on Primus. His family was one of the first to come to the Moons of Null (Primus, Secundus, and Tertius). His family also all but died out after the spores started up. Giles is a natural spy; he's used to being careful and circumspect, and used to being in places where the air can literally kill him. When the aliens attacked, his plans to become a doctor got put on hold; a family friend recruited him into Hades. He knows that Hades Ops have a (deserved) bad rep, but he makes a point not to use his ability to command Apollos or override Aegis Armors unless it's a life-or-death, mission critical situation. That's what all the records indicate, at least.